What is meant by ‘phasing out’ of Denmark’s Covid-19 vaccination programme?

The Danish Health Authority has said it has begun to plan "a winding down of the current vaccination program for all target groups".

A Danish Covid-19 vaccination centre in Aalborg, January 2021
A Danish Covid-19 vaccination centre in Aalborg, January 2021. The country has said it will "round off" its national vaccination programme. Photo: Henning Bagger/Ritzau Scanpix

The health authority said late last week it would bring the national vaccination programme to an end, citing the country’s high vaccine uptake and natural immunity, coupled with the third wave of the virus nearing an end and infections expected to subside with the change in seasons.

READ ALSO: Covid-19: Danish inpatient total continues increase but ICUs stable

The authority said the dates of the phase-out would be announced towards the end of February.

It also said in a statement released on February 12th that the current vaccination programme would be “rounded off” for all target groups.

Responding to questions from news wire AFP, it said on Monday that it was too early to provide details about what the phase-out would mean in practice and to what extent the vaccine would still be available to unvaccinated people in Denmark. 

However, the Danish Health Authority also said last week that it was not planning a fourth dose for additional population groups, nor a third dose for those under 18

Boosters will not be offered to under-18s because of high immunity in the group resulting from previous vaccination and infection with the coronavirus, the health authority said.

Young people and children are meanwhile at low risk of developing serious illness from infection with the Omicron Covid-19 variant, it said.

A fourth jab has been offered to vulnerable risk groups, with care home residents and persons over 85 next in line. But the latter groups will not be offered a fourth dose, the health authority confirmed.

Children aged 5-11 will – until any further announcement is made – continue to be offered vaccination against Covid-19 with a first and second dose. Vaccination of that age group was first recommended in November 2021.

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Denmark suspends national Covid-19 vaccination programme

Denmark, which in February lifted all curbs related to the coronavirus pandemic, said on Tuesday it was suspending its general Covid-19 vaccination programme.

Denmark suspends national Covid-19 vaccination programme

Noting that the epidemic was under control and that vaccination levels were high, the Danish Health Authority said the country was in a “good position.”

“Therefore we are winding down the mass vaccination program against Covid-19,” said Bolette Søborg, director of the authority’s department of infectious diseases.

Around 81 percent of Denmark’s 5.8 million inhabitants have received two doses of the vaccine and 61.6 percent have also received a booster.

Denmark noted a drop in the number of new infections and stable hospitalisation rates.

While invitations for vaccinations would no longer be issued after May 15th, health officials anticipate that vaccinations would resume after the summer.

“We plan to reopen the vaccination programme in the autumn. This will be preceded by a thorough professional assessment of who and when to vaccinate and with which vaccines,” Søborg said.

As a wave of the Omicron variant hit the country last November, Denmark intensified its immunisation campaign, accelerating access to booster shots and offering a fourth dose from mid-January to the most vulnerable.

READ ALSO: Covid-19: Denmark registers under 1,000 cases in a day for first time in 2022